21 May 2024

From barracks to the boardroom: Starting out in business as a military veteran

Two men shaking hands

People can retire from a career in the armed forces at a relatively young age, or they might leave early for other reasons, so it’s not uncommon for ex-military personnel to take up a new civilian career. 

Many choose to start their own business after they leave the forces and around 340,000 small businesses in the UK are run by ex-military personnel, according to the 2019 Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) report,

Being in the military equips people with transferable skills that are extremely valuable in business, including management, leadership, problem-solving, organisation, attention to detail, communication and the ability to work under pressure. 

But despite having these skills, it’s still important to seek legal advice if you’re considering setting up a new business, to ensure you’re getting it right. 

Choosing a business structure

A key consideration when starting a business is what type of legal structure best suits your new enterprise. There are a number of different options and no strict rules as to which type of structure should be chosen. 

You might choose to be a sole trader, private limited company, partnership or limited liability partnership - but it’s important to understand how each one works, as well as their advantages and potential drawbacks, before you embark. 

Getting specialist legal advice at this stage of your business is vital and our experienced team can assist you in choosing the right business structure for you. We can also assist in setting up your business and putting failsafe legal documentation in place, avoiding a wide range of pitfalls and problems which could be hard to solve later down the line. 

Setting out your terms 

When dealing with suppliers and customers, your terms of business, as well as your terms and conditions, need to be comprehensive enough to offer protection to you and your business. 

Whether you’re supplying, producing or purchasing goods or services, your terms should be incorporated and take priority over any terms that a customer or supplier might try to impose. 

What’s more, if you sell your goods or services through a website then it’s important that your terms are tailored specifically to internet sales, as legislation provides customers with different rights to cancel or return when purchasing at a distance. 

Our business start-up solicitors can help by drafting your terms or reviewing your existing terms, offering advice and guidance on what you need to include. 

Financing your business 

Securing finance and investors for your new business is a key part of the start-up process, setting you up for the future and ensuring you have adequate reserves. 

There are lots of different ways to secure finance, whether this is by bootstrapping, asset finance, business start-up loans, start-up business grants or third-party equity investors. 

When choosing a loan, or any type of security arrangement with a bank, it’s often a requirement that you discuss the implications with a solicitor. We can review, advise and negotiate the documentation to ensure that you are aware of the potential liability for you and your business. 

Protecting intellectual property

If you’re starting a business, it’s not just your financial assets that need protecting - your ideas and intellectual property will also need to be protected.

The principal forms of intellectual property are copyright, trademarks, designs, and patents, and you can register certain intellectual properties worldwide, as well as in the UK. 

This area of business can be difficult to navigate if you don’t have the correct knowledge, so our trusted team can work with you to identify existing and upcoming intellectual property, as well as registering your business ideas for protection. 

Military legal services 

Here at Wilkin Chapman, we have a proud history and connection with the military dating back a century. As a result, we understand the unique legal issues that arise for service and ex-service personnel and have a genuine specialism in military law. 

And our services don’t stop once you’ve left the forces - you can continue to rely on us for help and advice in your new civilian career, including setting up a new business. 

This is an exciting and daunting time for any budding entrepreneur, but being in the military has already equipped you with the essential skills that will set you on the path to success whilst being your own boss.

If you’re a military veteran starting out in business, why not get in touch with our expert team? We can advise on the best way to get it right, as well as pointing you in the direction of funding opportunities, events, workshops, and training courses designed specifically for veterans setting up their own business.

Holly Hilton, Wilkin Chapman LLP
Need help?

Contact Holly to discuss this further.

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